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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE BROADENING OF HUMANISM         215

The character of the courtier is rounded off by the attribution
of the Aristotelian virtues which manifest in various ways the
control of passion by reason. He must be temperate, brave,
just, and above all magnanimous. And yet with all these, there is
still something lacking. The courtier even in his virtues is too
closely chained to the earth. What is needed to make him com-
plete is religion; and this in effect, though not in language, is
Castiglione's answer. Like many of the finest spirits of the
Renaissance, he found the solution for the ultimate problems of
life in the Platonic doctrine of the heavenly beauty that comes to
the soul in its best moments ; and it is this transcendent experience
he desires for the perfection of the courtier. In beatific vision he
must get a glimpse of the heavenly beauty : " whyche is the origin
of all other beawtye, whiche never encreaseth nor diminisheth,
alwayes beawtyfull, and of it selfe, aswell on the one part as on
the other, most simple, onelye like itself, and partner of none
other, but in suche wise beawtifull, that all other beawtifull
thinges, be beawtifull, bicause they be partners of the beawtie
of it."

Castiglione's whole discussion needs to be read in the light of
its ending. On a superficial view it might be thought that he had
only added to the numerous treatises of his age on the perfect
prince a supplementary treatise on the perfect statesman; but
in reality his theme is not the perfect statesman but the perfect
man. In common with educators like Sadoleto and the other
thinkers who had in any degree appreciated the meaning of the
Renaissance, he had broken with the medieval tradition which
made all education a training for a particular office, and revived
the ancient Greek ideal of vocation as but an element in the life
of the complete human being. It happened that for his times
the qualities considered essential for the best manhood could be
most adequately realized in the calling of the courtier, just as- in
Quintilian's times they had been most adequately realized in the
calling of the orator. But for him, as for Quintilian, .there was
never any question that the best man was bigger than any office
he might fill.

In this, indeed, is to be found no small part of the secret of his
influence, It was no doubt a favouring condition that in most
lands the courts were, and continued for a long time to be, the
centres of great enterprises of every kind. But there was more